This article was originally written for, and appeared in, Fashion’s Collective (www.fashionscollective.com)
The theatrical pageantry of the runway show has recently become more available via the internet, providing users with previously unimaginable access to the artistic vision of the houses they most admire. Once the exclusive domain of celebrities and industry insiders, the catwalk has now become the visual province of legions of connected fashion devotees across the World Wide Web. This increase in accessibility has, in turn, afforded portability through mobile devices, allowing audiences a glimpse into the previously unattainable, without regard for time or space. The New York, Milan, and Paris experiences have become a mobile feast of perceived brand intimacy. All that being said, can true intimacy exist without connection? Without a taste of the brand lifestyle they aspire to, will loyalists feel their admiration unrequited?
Through the emerging medium of mobile, fashion marketers are afforded a variety-rich palette from which to paint a portrait of the brand lifestyle. This is structured for enthusiasts to take inspiration from, thereby increasing loyalty through mobile’s new marketing platform. In this digital age, where consumers are empowered with immediate access to information, opinions, social influence, and constant connectivity, the rules of the marketing game have changed. Customers now decide from a wide portfolio and choose those brands whose authenticity and sense of community draw them on an emotional level. With this in mind, is a unidirectional mobile engagement strategy, regardless of the immediate glitz factor, in the best interest of fashion marketers or the shoppers they hope to inspire? Obviously, Gucci believes the answer to be no.
The Gucci rich applications for iPhone and iPad are the quintessential examples of branded mobile lifestyle marketing. Through “Gucci Connect”, admirers received exclusive access to the January 17th Milan fashion show via their mobile device, (with archived access available for all other subscribers) effectively connecting the real world with the virtual world. Gucci offered live runway and behind the scenes video, coupled with live chat capabilities between the virtual event guests (through Facebook and Twitter), to tie social elements to the event. But Gucci does not stop there.
Exclusive to iPhone app subscribers are interactive games that celebrate the Children’s line, allowing kids to assemble looks and style caricatures, as well as paint new and existing photos on a blank canvas. The “Gucci Live” section of the application features the curated “Gucci Music Channel” as well as Creative Director Frida Giannini’s playlist, with links to iTunes for download. Within the “World of Gucci” portion of the app, consumers are treated to a celebration of Fellini’s classic, “La Dolce Vita”, with additional commentary provided by Martin Scorsese. A calendar keeps subscribers “in the know” of upcoming brand events and feature articles. Lastly, the famous Gucci “Little Black Book” provides brand curated recommendations to the hottest restaurants, nightclubs, and hotels in various cities throughout the world.
As fashion brands continue to tinker with approaches to best captivate their followers through mobile applications, the Gucci example adequately illustrates how the lifestyle-orientation of the brand can be presented with a wide variety of auditory and visual techniques. Creating increased intimacy is dependent not only upon pushing unidirectional communications with brand advocates, but also providing connections to the emotional make-up of the brand. Only then will supporters feel their loyalty rewarded by the brands with which they desire to associate.